cover image Into the Clear Blue Sky: The Path to Restoring Our Atmosphere

Into the Clear Blue Sky: The Path to Restoring Our Atmosphere

Rob Jackson. Scribner, $29.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-6680-2326-6

“The cheapest, safest, and only sure path to a safe climate starts with slashing emissions,” according to this invigorating report. Jackson (The Earth Remains Forever), an environmental science professor at Stanford University, surveys how cows, gas ranges, and the cement industry, among others, are filling the atmosphere with methane and carbon dioxide. Spotlighting individuals working on sustainable solutions, he shares how the CEO of a Swedish steel business, incentivized by laws requiring companies to pay for the carbon dioxide they release, developed a way to replace coal with hydrogen in the manufacturing process, which generates water instead of CO2 as a byproduct. Technology capable of removing greenhouse gases from the air will be necessary to achieve pre-industrial levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, he contends, describing how “direct-air capture” and “enhanced weathering” technologies work (the latter involves exposing certain reactive minerals to air, which initiates a chemical reaction that binds CO2 with the rock and removes the gas from the atmosphere). The scientific descriptions are crisp and accessible (“The carbon-hydrogen [C-H] bonds in methane absorb long-wave radiation and bounce like hyperactive schoolkids. These vibrations are how greenhouse gases warm the earth”), and the profiles offer reason for hope amid the gloom. This is an exceptional inquiry into the fight against global warming. (July)